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Startup Tucson helps food entrepreneurs launch businesses

Everything Tart
Posted at 5:36 PM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-16 19:36:49-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Leslie Hampton has a passion for baking.

"I get excited because it starts one way and ends a totally different way," said Hampton.

It's much like her own life, which took a turn when the pandemic hit.

"My doctor advised me that I couldn't work in public. I wound up being at home. I had to figure out something to do different. I decided I would do what I do best. That's baking," said Hampton.

That's where Hampton's business, Everything Tart, came in. She's just getting started, with the help of a new program at Startup Tucson.

"The 'food accelerator' is business education, which is what we do best," said Startup Tucson Program Coordinator, Channing Stirrat.

They call it the Food Forward program. The Startup Tucson team helps turn entrepreneurs food-related business ideas into reality. Guidance comes from local experts like Pima County Food Health and Safety, University of Arizona's Nutrition Department, Tucson Tamale and Barrio Bread.

"We really just tried to pull in the people who have done really amazing food things around here and come talk about how they did it," said. Stirrat.

The program is free for participants, thanks to a $300,000 grant from the USDA.

"It was a lot of support," said Hampton.

That support gave Hampton the confidence to pursue her dream.

"I'd rather wait till the first of year and then just hit it. That's really when the wedding season starts. I'm looking forward to doing that," said Hampton.

To learn more about about Startup Tucson's Food Forward program, click here.